xbn .

Category: Sacred Texts

Sacred texts, broadly understood, are replete in our collective political and theological imaginations. While sacred texts make political appearances in ways that we easily recognize, such as in oaths of office in which the official places her hand on a Bible, or Qu’ran, they construct our understanding and practice of politics in ways less often seen.



  1. James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (1969)
  2. Jacqueline Hidalgo, Revelation in Aztlán: Scriptures, Utopias, and the Chicano Movement (2016)
  3. Josef Sorett, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (2016)
  4. Kathryn Lofton, Consuming Religion (2017)
  5. Tracy Fessenden, Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (2013)

Relevant Journal Articles:

  • Susanna Snyder, “The Art of Wounded Hope: Forced Migration, Prophecy and Aesth/Ethics,” Political Theology 19, no. 6 (2018): 497-516
  • Michelle Wolff, “Madonna and Child of Soweto: Black Life Beyond Apartheid and Democracy,” Political Theology 19, no. 7 (2018): 572-592
  • Julia Reinhard Lupton, “Patience on a Monument: Prophetic Time in Shakespeare, Fuseli, and Michelangelo,” Political Theology 19, no. 7 (2018): 653-661

In this column, I want to engage in what Reynolds Price once referred to as “a serious way of wondering” about Exodus 20: 15-18—i.e., the moment at which the Israelites experience the divine self-revelation at the foot of Mount Sinai. Normally, this passage is understood as a theophanic event. To the extent that it involves the constitution of a nation or polity, it has usually been understood as a theocracy. Its intellectual expression (insofar as it addresses the issue of covenantal authority grounded in divine self-revelation) would therefore take the form of a political theology. To the extent that we read the above passage in this way, we have already rendered a decision—the essential significance of the passage would lie in the divine self-revelation. The fear which the Israelites experienced would amount simply and solely to a fear of God. Conversely, an acceptance of the commandments would amount to an acceptance of the political theology undergirding the theocracy.